The crowded race to develop a vaccine against the new coronavirus just received a potential billion-dollar boost: Johnson & Johnson (J&J) announced on 30 March that it and the U.S. government, through an agency under the Department of Health and Human Services, would together devote up to that amount to move a candidate product made by its Janssen division (biopharmaceutical company from the Netherlands) across the finish line.
Janssen’s vaccine is built around an engineered version of adenovirus 26 (Ad26), which normally causes common colds but has been disabled so that it cannot replicate. Company scientists stich into this Ad26 “vector” a gene for the surface protein from the new coronavirus spreading around the world. Janssen is testing this same Ad26 platform in vaccines against Ebola, HIV, respiratory syncytial virus, and Zika.
J&J had $42 billion in pharmaceutical sales last year, making it the sixth largest big pharma company. Sanofi is the only other in the top 10 that has a COVID-19 vaccine project.
Full story at Sciencemag